Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Vatican newspaper helps Tony Blair steal Newman's legacy

John Smeaton's Blog - 15.9.2010

L'Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, has today published an article by Tony Blair entitled "The Pope and Newman". The "Whispers in the Loggia" blog has published its own English translation of the Italian edition. Here is the key content from the article:
  • It's evident that for the life of the Church today, the reflections of Newman on the development of ideas have implications of no small significance."
  •  " ... Newman defined the consensus of the entire 'body of the faithful' on doctrinal questions as 'the voice of the infallible Church.' I ask myself if this voice is likewise taken seriously enough or if we have we have understood fully the implications of these ideas. The tendency of some religious leaders to insert a great number of differing ideas in one big package with the label of 'secularism' and then consider it as something of the Left creates divisions in pluralist societies. This precludes the Church from possibilities of new developments of thought."
  • "Newman, like Pope Benedict, himself fierily opposed relativism. But the interreligious activity of my Faith Foundation produces the opposite of relativism, confirms people in their different faiths, and maintains respect and understanding for the faith of others."
Elsewhere in the article Mr Blair pays lip-service to the role of the Church's Magisterium (teaching authority). In this Mr Blair is clearly attempting to fool Catholics into viewing him as a moderate conservative, one who acknowledges the Church's teaching authority whilst being open to modern developments. Anyone inclined to believe Mr Blair can simply read his newly-published memoirs, in which he says:

"Politicians are obliged from time to time to conceal the full truth, to bend it and even distort it".

The truth is that Mr Blair is cleverly abusing the nuances of Newman's opinions on the primacy of conscience and on the development of doctrine. Mr Blair is trying to steal Newman's clothing in order to leverage a change to Catholic teaching on homosexuality (and no doubt on other pro-life/pro-family issues). In April last year Mr Blair told the gay magazine Attitude that the Catholic Church must change its "entrenched attitudes to homosexuality".

As Monsignor Michel Schooyans, one of the Vatican's leading scholars, has pointed out in a masterly analysis, Mr Blair, with an anti-life, anti-family agenda, is in fact seeking to undermine the Catholic faith and religion generally:

"The fresh 'convert' [Blair] does not hesitate to explain to the pope not only what he must do, but also what he must believe! ... So now we are back in the time of Hobbes, if not of Cromwell: it is civil power that defines what one must believe ... [T]he nanny state [which] has multiplied subjective 'rights' of attribution, for example in the areas of divorce, sexuality, the family, population, etc. ... Religious institutions must also be reformed to adapt them to the changes. Some religious figures must be taken hostage and made to approve the new secularized 'faith', that of the 'civil partnership' ... In the case of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation [JS: see my blog about it], this is also a matter of promoting one and only one religious confession, which a universal, global political power would impose on the entire world".
Mr Blair has been ably assisted in his assault upon Catholic teaching by his wife Cherie (pictured) and her vocal campaigns in favour of contraception and leading pro-abortion organisations.

I am disgusted by L'Osservatore Romano's decision to give such prominence to Mr Blair and his manipulative agenda.This is not the first time that the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has betrayed the pro-life movement. In September last year it published an effusive double-page spread interview with Mr Blair; and earlier in 2009 it published articles favourable to Barack Obama, with the editor even declaring that "Obama is not a pro-abortion president".

To my mind it is no coincidence that Tony Blair's shameful attempted theft of Newman's legacy follows so soon after Fr Dermot Fenlon, one of the world's leading expert defenders of Newman's authentic legacy, has been sentenced to five years' exile from his home, Newman's Birmingham Oratory. Fr Fenlon, along with the other Birmingham Oratorians, were at the forefront of warning Catholics about the Blairs' agenda. As the Newman Cause blog said in November:

"Newman is indeed the great teacher of the rights and duties of conscience. It is of the greatest importance that his teaching is not used to make him the patron of Catholics, like Cherie Blair and others, who in the name of conscience practice dissent from the Church’s teaching ..."

And as the Newman cause blog said in October:

"Since becoming a Catholic, Mr Blair has refused every invitation [JS: see my blog about this] to disown and repent of [his anti-life/anti-family political record] ... [S]ome commentators, including Catholics, have sought to justify it by saying that Mr Blair’s silence is because his support for abortion, embryo experimentation, civil partnerships and gay adoption has always been for him, and remains now, a matter of conscience. Now this is the danger in The Tablet’s association of Newman and conscience with the case of Tony Blair. If as a Catholic Mr Blair thinks that his conscience directs him to support such positions, to invoke Newman in defence of his stance would be a travesty. For Newman, no Catholic can be in good conscience in supporting the positions Mr Blair espoused. The impossibility of conscience, enlightened by Faith, justifying adherence to evil is one of the most important of Newman’s lessons for our times."

Since the removal of Fr Fenlon and the Birmingham Three from the Oratory, the Newman Cause blog has had no substantial articles (in fact, the blog stopped altogether in July); and the posts on the Oratory website (12 March, 20 March) which so powerfully challenged episcopal policies on abortion and sex education have also stopped. The ending of these articles coincided with the parachuting in of Jack Valero by the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales to be press officer for the Newman Cause and who reports to Archbishop Nichols's press secretary.
Yesterday's edition of Zenit contains an extraordinary interview with Andrea Tornielli, a noted Vatican watcher. Here is a key extract:

Zenit: According to the Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi of Trieste, there exists a parallel magisterium among ecclesiastics, professors of theology in the seminaries, priests and laypeople who "muffle Benedict XVI's teachings, do not read the documents of his magisterium, write and speak arguing exactly the opposite of what he says, launch pastoral and cultural initiatives, on the terrain of bioethics or in ecumenical dialogue, for example, in open divergence with what he teaches." Is this true or is Archbishop Crepaldi mistaken?
Tornielli: I believe that Archbishop Crepaldi is right. It is obvious -- just take a look at many parishes, participate at conferences, cultural gatherings, etc., and you will see how Benedict XVI's magisterium (but this happened before too, with other Popes) is not transmitted to the faithful, but is instead sometimes openly contradicted.

I wrote in June:

"Could it be that external forces [JS: outside the Birmingham Oratory but inside the Church] who want a Catholic Church which is inclusive of the Blairs' anti-life, anti-family positions are bringing pressures to bear in [the Birmingham Three] situation? How very convenient it would be, especially in the run-up to Pope Benedict's visit, if uncomfortable issues such as the teaching of the Church on contraception, abortion and on homosexuality were also safely hidden away?"

It seems to me that the Blairs, Archbishop Nichols and the Catholic bishops' conference of which he is president are key players in this "parallel magisterium". (Jack Valero, in his bishops' conference role, has even denied the very existence of such a "parallel magisterium"). Ownership of the interpretation of Newman is one of the "parallel magisterium's" key goals. It would suit the purposes of the "parallel magisterium" to move to divide and conquer at the Birmingham Oratory, especially targeting Fr Dermot Fenlon, the champion of the true Magisterium's authentic interpretation of Newman's legacy.
Concerned readers of this blog are therefore heartily urged to join the faithful Newman experts who are standing up for Fr Fenlon: Dr Roman Siebenrock of the German International Newman Society, and Jakob and Dr Stephanie Maria Knab.